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How to avoid the annual break-up season

Would you like to know how to avoid the annual break-up season?

How to avoid the annual break-up seasonThe festive season can be wonderful.

…it can also be a really challenging time of year.

Family commitments, present-buying, Christmas parties, money-worries, end of year deadlines…

It’s a recipe for a stress-cocktail.

It’s no surprise that according to Facebook, December is the month of the year with the highest number of breakups.

The problem with stress is that we have a tendency to take it out on the people who are closest to us. They are the people who see every side of us…the good, the bad and the very ugly.

We don’t put on pretenses for those who are closest to us…and we don’t tend to pull our punches.

You see, when we’re under stress our bodies jump into fight or flight mode.

Why is this the annual break-up season?

We learned our stress responses many years ago when ‘stress’ was caused by coming face-to-face with a saber-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth. It was a matter of survival. Us or them.

Unfortunately our stress responses have not evolved with our lives…so we get the same rush of adrenaline and hormones when dealing with an urgent deadline as we did when being considered as a Paleolithic beast’s lunch.

So when we feel stress we see the world as a threat…including our partner.

When we see someone or something as a threat, all compassion and understanding tends to fly out of the nearest window. We have two go-to responses; protect & defend ourselves, and attack.

…and when one person gets defensive or confrontational, the other person often isn’t far behind.

So how can we avoid the stress-loop that often leads to a break-up?

Well the biggest problem when we enter this stress-pattern is that we forget that we are on the same side.

We’re on the same team.

They aren’t your adversary, they’re your team-mate.

Think about a football team. How successful do you think a team would be if they spent all their time tackling each other rather than focusing on the opposition, or the goal?

Not very.

You see, our response to stress often has us drawing battle lines against the person with whom you could instead be creating a battle strategy WITH.

So if you notice yourself dropping into ‘confrontation mode’ with your partner, here are a few simple steps to help you get back in each other’s corner again.

  1. Stop – So many of our troubles at this time of year start because rather than responding to what’s happening we react. We fire right back at the moment we feel upset or triggered without taking a moment to stop and consider how we want to respond, or the consequences of our reaction. Take a pause…it could make all the difference.
  2. Breathe – Take a deep breath, and allow yourself to let go of some of the tension in your body. When we go into fight of flight mode our muscles tense in order to be ready to swing a right-hook, or run for the hills. Taking a deep breath and shaking out your body can release some of this tension and help you to relax.
  3. Ask yourself a question – When we feel this way, it tends to be because we’ve attributed a meaning to our partner’s behavior (what they’ve said / not said / done / not done) that might not be in-line with the intention behind it. So ask yourself “What else could this mean?”, could there be another reason than the one you’ve got in your mind?
  4. Apologise – At this point you may be a little confused. Apologise? But they’re the one who’s upset me! While that may be true…step back a little bit. Is there something that you’ve said or done (or not said or done) that might have caused a reaction in them? Might they have misinterpreted your actions or words? If you can see how they might be upset, apologise for your part in what’s happened, without reservation, and without bringing how you’re feeling into it (for now).
  5. Ask for their help – It may be that they simply don’t know what you want or need, and how to give it to you…so the easiest way for them to be able to do this is for you to tell them. But barking instructions at them is probably not going to help them feel you’re on the same side. Instead ask for their help…ask for what you want and need, show them how to help and support you.
  6. Remind them that you’re on the same team – Remind them that you’re on their team…and that you know that they’re on your team too. Just verbalising this can make such a difference to how you both perceive what’s going on. It might be a misunderstanding, it might be a difference of opinion, but if you’re on the same side, you can figure it out together.

When you’re on the same side, dealing with the stress of the season seems so much more manageable…and you know you’re not dealing with it alone. Navigating your way through this can both pull you together, or tear you apart…choosing to be on the same team can make it more likely to be the former.

…and what if you do break-up?

…and if you do break up this time of year, there are a few things to bear in mind.

If the choice to separate wasn’t yours, then the other person has done you the favour of walking away from you. You want to be with someone who chooses you, who sees you, who values you…who wants to be with you. If this person has made another choice, you deserve more.

But knowing that doesn’t make the process of dealing with it any easier…so you might want to check out a couple of these articles to help you through the process:

…and the new year is a good time to move start afresh, to go through the process of letting go of the past and to begin to attract and create the relationship that you desire and deserve.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

What chance my experience of heartbreak forever?

What changed my experience of heartbreak forever?

What chance my experience of heartbreak forever?So last week I gave you the first of my answers to the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?”

The second answer that came to me when I asked the question “Why does heartbreak hurt so much?” tends to apply more when you feel like the decision to end the relationship has been completely out of your hands.

When this happens, we feel like the victim. We feel out of control. We feel ‘wronged’. We feel like this is something that has been done ‘to’ us.

…and when we’re in this place of feeling like it has been done ‘to’ us, the lack of choice, the lack of control makes it even harder to process.

We’ve been forced into this situation of having to deal with these emotions without any choice, any say, and (often it feels like) no consideration.

What I have to say now might be difficult to hear if you’re currently going through heartbreak.

I know, because I’ve been there, and it was hard for me to consider at first too.

But really hearing this, really understanding it can make a huge difference to your experience…and to your future experiences too.

The path out of this feeling of being out of control, of feeling like the victim, the wronged party, is to understand and accept that it is your own choices that have brought you to this moment in time.

(Take a couple of moments to shout and swear at the screen in front of you if you’d like…that can sometimes help too! 🙂 )

This side of heartbreak can be hard to face…

I can almost hear your thoughts “What do you mean?! They’re the one who did this! It’s their fault! I did nothing wrong!” …and I know how this feels, because I’ve felt it myself.

But the reality is that the choices that you have made have led you to the point you are at now. What you’ve done and haven’t done, who you chose to date or not date, what you allowed from other people and what you didn’t allow, how you showed up and how you didn’t show up.

Now, let me be perfectly clear about this…this is not about blame.

This is not about blaming yourself for what has happened (or the other person for that matter)…it’s about understanding that you can take responsibility for your part in how the situation played out.

Whether it’s in that you prioritised your work over your relationship, or that you didn’t always bring the best ‘you’ you could to the relationship, or simply that you chose to be with someone who wasn’t willing or able to meet your needs, or whose wants and needs you weren’t willing or able to meet in return.

This is not about looking back with regret or shame…you’re at this point now because there’s something you need to learn for yourself…and without this experience the lesson wouldn’t be as powerful and wouldn’t make a difference to how you choose to live your life going forward.

Simply understanding this, simply getting to the point where you can see it, and take responsibility for your part in where you’re currently at is the point at which you can shift from feeling like a victim, to feeling empowered.

If your choices have helped create the situation you’re in right now, your choices can help to create something different in the future….they can help to create what you really want for yourself.

I’m not going to lie. This was hard for me to understand at first…and a part of me didn’t want to understand it.

It was easier to blame someone else for how I was feeling.

I didn’t want to accept that I could have done anything that could have changed the situation I was in and the way I was feeling.

I wanted to make him the ‘bad guy’ because it made me feel momentarily better about the fact I wasn’t with him anymore and I had someone to blame for the pain I was feeling.

But when I really took a moment to honestly look at it, I realised that I had played my part in it too.

I’d played my part in each one of my heartrbeaks

Every heartbreak was different, and my part in it had been different too.

There were some in which I’d simply chosen a person that I was fundamentally incompatible with. They didn’t have the capacity to be the man that I wanted to be with long-term.

There were others where I simply wasn’t giving him what he deserved, because I’d not been ‘getting it’ from them first.

There were others where I’d held back for fear of getting hurt, and in doing so I never gave the relationship a chance to see what it could really be.

There were others where I ignored warning signs of dishonesty and just ‘hoped’ that it would get better.

The list goes on. I had to accept that I had a part in the every one of those relationships coming to an end (even if that part was just in starting the relationship in the first place!)

…and here is the part where the power lies.

The gift in heartbreak…

Because if you can see how your choices have helped create the situation you are currently in, you can choose (if you want to) to make different choices in the future.

The awareness that this brings is the key to finding the gift that I mentioned in my earlier article…because the gift is the learning. The gift is being able to understand yourself better, understand what you want in the future, and grow in a way that will enable you to have it.

To make new choices that will empower you and that will create a different outcome, and that will get you close to the life and relationship that you desire and deserve.

…and as a last note, I’ll say this:

This is a very powerful part of the experience of heartbreak. It is also something that needs to happen at the right time. This is part of the ‘acceptance’ stage of the 5 stages of grief that I mentioned in my last article.

Trying to go through this process when you’re still deep in anger, or denial or bargaining, or depression is likely to make you feel worse, not better…because it will be used as a tool to enhance your current stage. You’ll feel more angry (normally at yourself!) if you try and do this from the anger stage…or feel more depressed about the situation if you do it during the depression stage.

It’s a very important process to go through, but you will only get the real benefit of it if it’s done at the right time.

During my last heartbreak I remember ranting to a friend and shouting, “I know this is all happening for a reason, and I know that there will be a gift in it eventually, but right now it just sucks…and I just want to be with the fact that it sucks, because that’s all I have the capacity for right now!!!”

So be gentle with yourself…allow yourself to experience all the stages of grief and all of the emotions that come up fully and in your own time.

…and then when you’re ready (and not a moment sooner!) take yourself through this process to find the gift for you.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Does a broken heart ever mend, or do we just end up living with the scars of heartbreak?

Does a broken heart ever mend or do we just get left with the scars of heartbreak?Heartbreak.

Unfortunately most of us will have experienced this at some point in our lives.

That agonising pain that comes with the end of a relationship, when it feels like you’re the only person in the whole world feeling like your heart has been torn in two.

The desire to eat every comfort food consumable to try and feel the empty hole in your heart.

Wanting to forget.

Wanting to remember.

Wanting to talk.

Wanting to not have to talk.

Feeling like your whole world is crumbling around you.

Not wanting to be alone and yet not knowing how to be around others.

Wondering if the pain will ever subside.

Thinking that you will never be the same again.

Feeling like you’ll never want to put yourself out there again, because you don’t feel like you could take going through this again.

That awful time when just remembering to keep breathing in and out feels like an effort.

I know, from personal experience, the pain of heartbreak

Heartbreak and I are old friends…we’ve spent many a day and sleepless night together.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Every time I’m in it I always say the same thing “I just wish it was 6 months from now”.

Why?

Because I know I’ll get through it, I always do. But I also know that in order to get through it I need to be in it. I need to feel it. I need to feel it all.

…and that isn’t easy, in fact it’s one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to deal with.

So when someone reaches out asking for help with heartbreak, my heart goes out to them. Because I know where they are. I’ve been there, many times.

This week I saw a question “Does a broken heart ever mend, or do we just end up living with the scars?”…and I felt moved to respond to it in a very personal way.

…and today I want to share that response with you, because I know from the messages and comments I receive that it might be relevant to you too.

So, my personal story of heartbreak…

My sister has been what most people would consider very “lucky in love”. Her first long-term boyfriend turned out to be the man who she fell in love with, married and now very happily has a little boy with.

Her husband is wonderful and I’m so pleased that they found each other and have created their lovely life together. As a result, she’s been ‘lucky’ enough to never have really experienced ‘heartbreak’ as you and I might know it.

On the other hand as you may know from my previous articles, I have experienced many heartbreaks during my lifetime.

There is a part of me that at times in my life has been slightly envious of my sister’s experience. Because she never experienced heartbreak, she in some ways kept the innocence and naivety that comes with first love. She never had that part of her life ‘tainted’ in any way by a negative experience. Being that she’s my sister, I am grateful that she’s never been through this.

However, as much as I wouldn’t wish the heartbreaks that I’ve been through on anyone, much less my sister, I know that because of the experiences I’ve had my life, I am a changed person…and every one of those changes in me has been for the better (in the long term).

My life has been richer for walking the path I have, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have grown in ways I know I wouldn’t have without those experiences. Each one has tested my emotional resilience in ways I couldn’t have imagined…and yet each one has brought with it such a gift of growth and personal learning too. It has made me the woman I am today. I have a depth of compassion, of self-knowing, of emotional experience, of love as a result of it.

I appreciate love in a way I wouldn’t have done, had I not lost it at times along the way.

My heart has been changed for those experiences.

Some might say that it’s been scarred by them…but as with scar tissue in the body…those parts of my heart are actually stronger for it.

Remembering those ‘scars’, the heartbreaks, the experiences I’ve gone through, the pain I’ve felt, helps me to continue to choose every day the woman I want to be. It’s helped me learn what I want for my life, what I will and won’t accept (both for me and by me), and it helps me to be the best woman I can be for myself and the man in my life every day.

As a result of these moments in my life I don’t take love or life for granted, which sometimes people who haven’t experienced them can.

My experience is that in time (with a compassionate approach of truly processing the emotion and the experience), the pain subsides, the wounds heal, the lessons are learned and we move on into our next chapter forever changed.

That change can be our greatest gift if we allow it to be.

Heartbreak has been a real gift to me

…and this is why I describe heartbreak and I as old friends, because that’s what we are. Though our relationship has never been easy, it’s brought me more than I could have ever imagined.

Without the heartbreaks in my life, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, doing the work I do, helping people around the world to create deep, mutually fulfilling relationships.

But most importantly I don’t believe I would have had the experience that I personally needed to be able to create the level of connection, communication and compassion that I have in my two most important current relationships – the one with myself, and the one with my partner.

I wouldn’t change any of the heartbreaks I’ve experienced in my life for anything.

Although I experienced terrible pain through every single one of them…I am truly grateful from the bottom of my heart for each one of them and the gifts that I eventually allowed them to bring me.

In Japan there is a practice called “Kintsukuroi” which means “to repair with gold”. It is the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver laquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

So I invite you to repair any ‘cracks’ you may feel as a result of your heartbreak with gold, or silver, or another gift that is valuable to you, and begin to see the beauty in them too.

Stay fabulous,

Claire x

The day I fell apart…

Falling ApartOver the last few weeks I’ve been hearing the same comment on a regular basis….”you’re dealing with your breakup really well”.

Sometimes it’s said with surprise, sometimes it’s said with an element of hope…at other times with a slight hint of dismay.

At a lunch meeting a while back, a colleague mentioned to me that I was one of these women who seemed to always have it together…and she wondered if I ever have days where things just get too much.

Well, I do 🙂

I’m just like everyone else in that sense.

So today I thought I would share about one of my more ‘challenging days’…so that you can see that I have them, just like everyone else.

As you know, a couple of months ago I went through a difficult breakup when the boyfriend I was living with left unexpectedly the night before Valentine’s Day.

I shared a bit about my experience on my blog to help other women who might be going through a similar situation.

Unfortunately it was never going to be an easy split because he was involved in some technical aspects of my business…so as much as it would have been easier at that point to have had a completely clean break with no contact (at least for a while until the wounds begin to heal), this wasn’t the reality of my situation.

Over the past month or two we have had to stay in touch to try and work out the details and come to a conclusion about how things will be resolved, including a few financial issues.

So it has been challenging, but all in all, I’ve been doing pretty well. There have been good days, and bad days, but I’ve followed my own advice and felt whatever emotions have come up in order to begin to release them. I’ve had some health problems along the way, but generally I was doing OK.

…until last Tuesday.

Now, I love social media…it’s a great way to stay in touch with my many friends across the world, but there are times (like this) where I really wish that we weren’t so connected.

On Tuesday I had a phone call from a friend.

Unfortunately due to a problem with my friend’s phone I wasn’t able to have a proper conversation with her….I could hear her, but she couldn’t hear me…so I just had to listen, sat on my own in a venue in London.

She told me that few days before, through the magic of Facebook, it was announced that my ex was on holiday with his new girlfriend.

I felt a rush of emotions all at once….hurt, angry, betrayed, used,…you name it, I felt it.

I completely fell apart.

The challenge with this was that I got this information literally minutes before a meeting in London that I was supposed to be leading.

The women walked into the room to find me in tears.

A few years back, I would have ‘pulled myself together’, put on a brave face, and powered through.

Not on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I allowed myself to share what had happened. I was completely open, I was completely vulnerable and more importantly I allowed these amazing women to be there for me.

It didn’t stop the hurt, but it certainly did help.

What was interesting was the more I shared…the more the ladies there shared that they had had similar experiences…and it helped to know that there were others who had been where I was in that moment.

That completely honest connection with another person where you understand each other’s pain, you’ve walked in each other’s shoes, creates a bond. It gives a real sense of understanding, strength and hope.

So I’m sharing this today for one reason. I know that there are other women out there, perhaps you’re one of them, who are going through a situation like this.

It’s OK that it hurts. It’s OK that it’s painful. It’s OK that you don’t always have it together. It’s OK to sometimes have a hard time dealing with things. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK if you need to fall apart for a little while. It’s OK to lean on others….even if you’re supposed to be doing the leading.

We’re human.

None of us are perfect…myself included.

So the next time you have a moment when it just gets too much…give yourself permission to lean on the people around you.

You do so much for them, that it’s good for them to have the gift of giving back to you…especially at the times when you need it the most.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

How to deal with Heartbreak…

A question that I get asked on a regular basis is “How do I deal with a broken heart and still stay in my feminine?”

As we know, being feminine is about being open and embracing the ability to be vulnerable. So I’m going to be completely open about my current personal situation…

As you may or may not know, unfortunately I have recently experienced heartbreak first-hand.

I won’t go into details, except to say that a few weeks ago my partner took the decision to leave. …leaving me to deal with a broken heart.

Broken heart

Luckily or unluckily, depending on which way you look at it, this is not my first trip around this merry-go-round. So as painful as it is, at least I know what to expect.

Every breakup is different, but the emotions are often the same or very similar.

You have either lost or had taken away from you something that you cherished…so there is a real feeling of grief and pain.

Most of us know that there are 5 theoretical stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (of which I’ve experienced at least 3 in the last few weeks…)

But knowing the stages that you’re going to experience doesn’t actually help you to deal with them.

So how do you deal with it and still stay in your feminine?

Being open, emotionally connected and vulnerable is painful when you are going through a breakup. But from my own personal experience, the alternative can come back to bite you …

I experienced my first real heartbreak at the age of 24. It was with the first man who I truly loved and who I had moved to a new area of the country to be with.

The split came totally out of the blue for me. I had no idea that it was coming and it was a complete shock.

It was like someone had just pulled the bottom out of my world.

As we lived together, and I had very few friends in the area where we lived, I had to leave in the middle of the night and went back home to my parents’ house.

For three days I completely fell apart.

…and I mean completely and totally fell apart.

I was inconsolable.

The worst part of it wasn’t actually the pain I was experiencing, although it was gut wrenching. As strange as this may sound, the worst part was watching my family watching me going through it.

We have always been a very close family and seeing the pain on their faces, watching me going through it while knowing there was nothing they could do to take it away, was unbearable.

After three days I’d had enough.

I was tired of crying. I was tired of feeling so awful. I was determined to take control again. So given that I was going to be moving to be closer to my friends and family there were plenty of things for me to focus on.

I was focused on getting a new job, finding a flat, anything and everything to distract myself from feeling as bad as I did.

…and for a while it worked.

I moved, I started my new job and began my new life.

Until one day, about 6 months after the split, I was walking back to my car after a long day at the office when it hit me like a freight train.

All of a sudden, I was experiencing all the emotions and pain that I had felt immediately following the split.

I no longer had anything to distract me from it. I hadn’t dealt with it…I’d just buried it.

…and although I’d done a good job, it wasn’t going to stay buried forever.

I was a mess.

I asked all of my friends for help.

“What do I do?”

They all came back with the same reply.

“You just need to deal with it”.

Well, as helpful as that sounded, I was none the wiser. Because I was happy to deal with it, I WANTED to deal with it, I just didn’t know how.

When I asked them “OK, so how do I deal with it?” I got nothing but blank faces in response.

So I muddled my way through and after a rollercoaster couple of years, I eventually felt that I was over it.

Unfortunately this wasn’t my only experience of heartbreak.

A few years later I found myself in exactly the same situation. Another breakup from out of the blue…and another broken heart.

Again, for a few days I totally fell apart…but this time was different.

This time I had the wisdom of “Sex and the City” to guide me through.

You see one day, not long after this second breakup, I was watching an episode of “Sex and the City” which provided me with all the answers I was looking for.

The episode is in season 6 and is called “One”. Charlotte finds out that she is pregnant, but after a brief moment of joy she loses the baby.

She is plunged into a state of depression and Harry (her husband) tells Miranda (one of her best friends) how worried he is about her. He doesn’t know what to do.

Miranda’s response is simple.

“She’ll be ok, she just has to feel it”

Light bulb moment.

You have to feel it.

That’s how you deal with it. You feel it.

What I’ve since learned is that it’s only when you allow yourself to really feel and experience the emotions fully, that you can release them.

Anything else results in just burying the emotions, and no matter how deep you bury them, they will still be there, still hurting you.

What’s worse is at some point they will bubble up to the surface…often when you least expect them to, and usually at an even worse time.

So cry if you need to cry, shout if you need to shout, feel the fear, the pain, the hurt…all of it, as and when it comes up.

…and when you’ve felt it completely, you can then let it go.

Although it might be painful in the short-term…letting yourself feel these emotions means that you can release them and begin to heal.

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does get you through it as quickly as possible.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing. Feeling what I need to feel, as and when the emotions come up. Acknowledging them, feeling them completely, moving through them and then finally, bit by bit, beginning to release them.

…and next week I will be sharing the 5 most important things to help you deal with a broken heart.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x